Horton shines as B's win 'the right way'

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Horton shines as B's win 'the right way'

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins proved Thursday night that they can win without all the fights. They proved that, in spite of what all the talking heads outside their locker room say about them, they can overcome whatever it is being said about them or the team coming into their building.

And they did it by remaining disciplined.

Discipline comes with keeping the gloves on, even if everyone packing into the TD Garden for a game against the rival Montreal Canadiens thinks they're in for a blood bath.

For these Bruins, keeping the gloves on means not risking any unnecessary injuries. It also means keeping their key offensive pieces on the ice.

And as much as Nathan Horton should have potted twice the number of goals he's had this season -- given all the scoring chances he's had -- he's still one of those key offensive pieces.

A few nights ago against the Devils, Horton was skating around with a purpose. He wanted to be physical. He wanted to run his mouth. He wanted to find a fight. So much so that the officials had to confront him along the half-wall before a faceoff in the offensive zone. They had seen and heard enough.

Horton has proven this season that, while playing a physical game, he can produce. He's also proven that, while playing a physical game, he can hit scoring slumps. With Horton, the two don't necessarily come hand in hand, like it does for his linemate, Milan Lucic.

But on Thursday night, he wasn't looking for a fight. None of the Bruins were. That was the game plan.

"We just went out there, we were focused on doing it right," said coach Claude Julien. "And for us, it's a win that we needed, for all the right reasons, standings and everything else. I think our guys felt good about our performance tonight, and rightfully so."

The Bruins had to feel good about Horton's performance in Thursday night's 7-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. He played his game. And like it or not, his game is scoring. Nothing more, nothing less. And he played that game in what felt like a playoff atmosphere.

"This is definitely a little bit of a taste," said Horton after the game. "It feels like the playoffs a little bit. It's going to get like that even more.

"Once you get into the playoffs, that's another story," Horton later added. "It feels good right now. Like I said, we'll enjoy it tonight, and it will be in the past tomorrow."

Horton was acquired to put the puck in the net, and he did so twice against the Habs at the TD Garden. And he did it even though this was a game that had all the makings of the Canadiens getting under the skin of a guy like Horton, only because they know that when he's is in the penalty box for a five-minute fighting penalty, that's one offensive threat their goaltender, Carey Price, doesn't have to worry about.

But Horton didn't lose his cool and he stayed on the ice, for the most part.

A high stick caught him above the right eye late in the first period, while the Bruins led 2-0. Horton left the ice to get some repairs done and came back with several stitches, then gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead with 42 seconds left on the four-minute power play that resulted from the high stick that he took.

Horton went hard to the net from the left wing, and Lucic, who had the puck in the left corner, tried to fire a hard pass through the slot to a streaking Zdeno Chara down the right wing. But Canadiens defenseman Paul Mara blocked it, and Horton was right there to knock the loose puck into the empty net.

"It's a tough one I guess," said Horton. "I just got hit with a stick and I came back. It was nice to always get the goal, but to get that other cushion there, it was nice, going into the second.

"I was just going to the net. I was just busting to the net. Lucic was trying to hit the defenseman. I think Chara was back there, and Mara blocked the pass, and it bounced to me, so I just hit it."

Horton added another goal four minutes into the third, finishing a nice David Krejci saucer pace on a 2-on-1 by sniping the top-right corner on price. It was his 22nd goal of the year and gave the B's a commanding 4-0 lead.

Sure, there have been several major dry spells for Horton this season. And given the number of chances he's had all season, asking for more than 22 goals this season isn't asking for too much.

But at least he proved that when the Bruins need him on the ice most, to focus on, as Julien said, "doing it right," Horton will be out there doing what they need him to do.

And that's scoring. Nothing more, nothing less.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.